Vocalic “L”

By Pam Marshalla

Q: I have a fourth grade student who has trouble with the vowelized “L” sound. She can produce final “L” when paired with a high front vowel but not when paired with a low back vowel. Do you have any suggestions for helping her learn how to lower the back of her tongue in order to produce these sounds correctly?

Your client can say /l/, but just does not know how to transition from every vowel position to the /l/ position. Teach her how to make this transition.

  • Teach her to become acutely aware of her tongue movement for /l/: Lifting the tongue tip to the alveolar ridge.
  • Teach her to become acutely aware of one individual low vowel. Use the lowest, “Ah.”
  • Teach her to say “Ah” and then “L” in sequence one after the other but not connected together. Say, “Ah (long pause) L.”
  • Teach her to transition VERY slowly from “ah” to “L.” Say, “Ahhhhhhlllll.” Keep voice going during the transition. Stretch out the transition so that she has time to hear it. Make sure the vowel is good, and the “L” is good.
  • Repeat this same process for any of the other vowels necessary.

You are teaching your client to attain and maintain the correct acoustic quality on “Ah” while she thinks about transitioning to “L.” And you are teaching her to slowly make the transition without losing control of the “Ah” quality that co-articulates with “L”.

This is the essence of CO-ARTICULATION TRAINING: Teaching the client to say clear individual phonemes, then teaching him to transition from one to the other without either effecting the phonemic integrity of the first.

5 thoughts on “Vocalic “L””

  1. I have a client who is vowelizing /r/ and /l/. Consonantal /r/ is fine. I have really been struggling with him for the past two years to elicit vocalic /r/ and nothing has worked. Could there be a anatomical reason for this? Should I try oral motor therapy? He is in 4th grade and also receiving many interventions for a learning disability. He was adopted at birth. He heard Russian first but never spoke it (only English).

    1. I have a student also who is from Ukraine and adopted to the US. HE also is having trouble with vocalic /r/.

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